How to critique Andrew Fuller

Silhouettee of Fuller Andrew Fuller has not been immune from criticism in the past or in the present. A few authors in the nineteenth century were quite critical of "Fullerism" for its emphasis on the necessity of faith in Christ. If faith is a gift, then they argued it cannot be a duty. A few authors in the twentieth century had similar concerns. What is disturbing about some of these attacks is not so much their critical theological comments but their ad hominem spirit.

I recently came across this marvellous review of Thomas Ekins Fuller's A Memoir of the Life and Writings of Andrew Fuller inThe Primitive Church (or Baptist) Magazine 20 (London, 1863) that shows how criticism of Fuller should be done. The author of the review begins by saying that "once for all, we must enter our protest against that system of wholesale condemnation, that will admit of nothing good in a man, if some part of his divinity system happen to be open to question." Though a man may be wrong as a divine, the author continued, he may well rank "among the most devoted servants of God" (p.254).

The author believes that "Fullerism" is not at all scriptural, yet he is prepared to argue that Fuller himself was "an eminent, a powerful, and a useful man." So passionate was he for missions and devoted to God, that the author was prepared to say: "we ardently wish there were tenfold more Andrew Fullers among us now." And in order to perpetuate "the piety, the devotedness, and self-denying zeal" of Fuller the reviewer recommended this memoir by his grandson (p.255).

Personally I do not believe "Fullerism" is unbiblical, but how refreshing to read such a review--albeit one hundred and forty-five years after it was written. This is how to critique those with whom we disagree.